As an HOA board member, you are used to receiving a lot of questions. You’re one of the people that HOA community residents turn to when they’re looking for answers and you’d obviously like to be able to respond in an effective way.
At Yellowstone Landscape, we have a lot of experience working with HOA communities. Along with that, we have been part of many landscape committee discussions and participated in numerous board meetings. So, we have a good sense of what residents tend to ask about our landscaping services.
Whether you’re a new board member trying to get an idea of what to expect from residents—or you’re just looking to be better informed going forward—we’ve rounded up some of the most common questions board members receive about their community’s landscape and included some thoughts on how we would answer them.
1. When are the Landscapers Going to Come?
This is just one version of a variety of scheduling questions that residents tend to ask. Our account managers say that scheduling questions are the number one form of inquiry they hear from HOA residents.
If it’s a community that receives multi-day landscape services, residents might ask what day their section is being serviced. Or, residents sometimes might ask about the timing, like why does the landscaper have to come so early?
The best way to be able to answer any scheduling-related questions is to make sure that your commercial landscape provider has given you a service map that includes these details. If you’re part of a large HOA that receives multi-day services, then your service map should explain which areas are being serviced when.
If you are an HOA that receives one-day services, then at Yellowstone Landscape, we do focus on offering services on the same day each week with the same crew. We find that HOA board members and residents appreciate this. Everyone knows exactly when the landscape crew will be arriving each week—and they even begin to recognize the same friendly faces on their property.
In terms of timing, it’s important that residents understand that there are certain by-laws of the community that both they (the residents) and any vendors are abiding by. If the by-laws say that no work can be done before 8 AM, then that’s the timing that we’re working around.
We always want to respect resident wishes, but the earlier we can start in the day, it’s generally safer for our crews and for residents. But Yellowstone Landscape always makes an effort to start in the areas that are furthest from residential homes in order to be considerate of the later risers in the community. That means if we service a number of common areas, we’ll start there at our “start time,” and work our way toward the individual properties.
It helps that we stick to the same start time each week so residents know what to expect.
2. What is Being Applied and is it Safe?
Our account managers tell us that the next most common form of questions they hear from residents has to do with safety. Naturally, people want to know that they don’t have anything to worry about.
The best way to address any questions like this is with straightforward information. At Yellowstone Landscape, we tell anyone who asks about the products that we’re using that they are professional-grade, EPA-approved products.
We find that a lot of residents are approaching this question with specific concerns related to glyphosate (the chemical used in Round-Up). The television advertising campaigns for legal action surrounding this chemical have raised concerns and we find that most people don’t know much about it besides those ads.
The truth is, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that when used in accordance with its current label, glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Bayer, the manufacturer of Round-Up has also shared that there are more than 800 studies that have demonstrated the chemical’s safety.
Ultimately, it boils down to the proper use of this chemical. Any products that we apply are applied by licensed applicators who are trained on the proper and safe way to apply them. We invest a tremendous amount of time and effort into training our spray applicators so that we are confident proper steps are taken.
3. Is the Landscaper Taking all Safety Precautions?
To extend the safety questions even further, residents are not only concerned about the safety of products but of the landscaper’s actions as a whole. They want to know that the landscaping crew is not going to be parking somewhere that’s blocking traffic or creating a hazardous situation with equipment. We understand that people live in the homes that make up a large community and the presence of a lot of equipment and trucks can potentially put them on edge.
This is where communication about safety training is important. Residents want to know that you (the HOA board) have hired a landscape professional that takes safety seriously.
At Yellowstone, we’ve invested heavily in safety training and welcome the opportunity to share that information with HOA boards and residents. Our crews are trained to take even the smallest details into consideration. Whenever possible, we’re avoiding parking on main roadways that would cause traffic disruptions. The crews are trained to “cone” the vehicles off and make them highly visible. All of our crews are in safety vests. They are also well-trained and highly experienced in utilizing all of the equipment.
Even seemingly small details, such as shutting off a blower when a resident walks by, are details that we talk to crews about. Again, we understand that people are living here and while they desire a beautiful landscape, they also want as few disruptions in their community as possible.
This is certainly a difference from a smaller, local contractor who might not have invested as much time or money into safety training. Surely, you’ve driven by an HOA that has crews parked in inconvenient locations with no cones and crews out and about with no safety vests. Some companies just take safety more seriously than others and assume nothing will ever go wrong. But at Yellowstone Landscape, we’re always thinking ahead by ensuring that we’re preventing problems in the first place.
4. How Does the Landscaper Pick the Flowers?
Questions about the flower selection for common areas or the front entrance are other common queries. Residents might want to know how the specific colors are chosen or what types of flowers are considered. Our account managers also tell us that residents often have questions about how often flowers are changed out.
Many times, these questions arise in between rotations. For instance, if you are in an HOA that has invested in 3 seasonal rotations, there might be a period of time in between rotations where flowers are starting to look withered and dated. Around this time, depending upon what was planted, we might pull them out or deadhead them. This is usually the time when residents might ask why there is nothing planted or when the next flowers will be chosen.
It’s important for residents to understand that all of these details are spelled out in the landscape contract. The number of seasonal rotations and even the plant material chosen is all part of a decision made by the HOA board and/or the property manager. We do sometimes have residents ask us directly about how they can get more involved in choosing flowers. Oftentimes, HOA boards choose to form landscaping committees where residents can get more involved. But it’s important that community members understand these decisions were already made at the time that the contract was signed.
5. Who is Responsible for What Landscaping Services?
We also find that many residents have questions or confusion over “who” is responsible for “what.” In other words, they might be unsure what responsibilities are their own and what responsibilities fall in the hands of the professional landscaper.
Perhaps they’ve planted some flowers and now they expect that the commercial landscaping company will maintain them. But the landscaping contract might clearly state that the landscape professionals will only be handling flowers in common areas.
This is a common area of confusion and we’ve written an entire article on who handles what responsibilities in terms of landscaping services.
The best way to address any questions related to responsibilities is with clear communication and transparency from the very start. Your landscape professional can certainly be involved in this effort. In fact, at Yellowstone Landscape, we are often asked to have a company representative attend monthly HOA board meetings in order to clear up any questions like this. We also love the opportunity to participate in any special landscaping committees that might be formed and to contribute news and articles to your social media channels or community newsletter. We believe that communication is key when it comes to answering any questions related to responsibilities.
Communication is the Key to Answering Questions
Actually, great communication is the key to answering all questions that arise. Even better, we try to provide answers to questions before they’re even asked! By putting as much information out there as possible and spelling out all of the details, we know that we can save board members from having to answer a million questions from residents—because they already know.
Of course, we know not everyone takes the time to read the newsletter, check-in on social media, or read through the by-laws. At the very least, we like to make it as easy as possible to provide clear and succinct answers. If residents have a question you can point them to an article we’ve written or a post that we’ve made. We’re putting the information out there to help make it all as clear as possible.
This is all part of being your partner, rather than just another vendor. At Yellowstone Landscape, we take the relationships that we develop with HOAs seriously. That includes shouldering some of the burdens that you bear. While we can’t answer residents' questions about their roof or about residential parking or about a neighbor complaint—we can answer the landscaping questions and take some of the stress off your plate! That means fewer headaches for you.
Are you ready to work with a commercial landscaping company that takes communication seriously? Request a consultation today. We’ll meet to learn more about your property and its challenges and come up with a comprehensive plan to take care of all of the details for you.